Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Graduation


So, I didn’t fall off a cliff or anything, it’s just been a little busy around here.  And no, not busy in the way that I’ve had a baby.  I’m still massively pregnant.

Let’s catch up, shall we?

Graduation happened.

I went back and forth a lot about whether I would even go to graduation.  At one point, Benjamin and I were thinking of skipping it to go off to New Zealand to visit his parents instead.  And I am pretty sure New Zealand would have been way cooler than graduation, but now that I know what the third trimester of pregnancy is like, I am really quite happy to not spend 48 hours of it on airplanes. 

In addition to the lure of NZ, I was thinking of skipping graduation for several reasons.

1. Since I took an extra year to get the Master of Public Health degree, most of my friends graduated last year.  I don’t actually know most people in the class of 2012, so I don’t have this need to celebrate with my class.

2. My parents were being butt-faces and so celebrating with them was unappealing or not an option.

3.  UVA graduation is a clusterfuck (that’s the technical, medical term).  All the various schools graduate together on the lawn and then there are separate diploma ceremonies all over campus.  The proud parents, grandparents, half-uncles, and step-cousins of six thousand students descend on Charlottesville and everybody wants to go out to dinner, drive on the one lane main street, park where you want to park, etc.

4. Graduations in general are sort of….stupid.  Commencement speeches are long and generally not entertaining or full of good life advice. 

But I went anyway.  My parents recently had a major change of heart and have been being significantly less butt-faced, which is great.  And they wanted to go, and I was not in New Zealand, so why not?

It was exactly as hot and crowded and logistically difficult and as boring as I predicted – and I am still really glad I went.  My parents were exactly as wacky and exasperating as I expected them to be, and I was really glad that they were there to celebrate with me.  After months of agonizing over my relationship with them and coming around to a place where I don’t crave their approval – it was still great to have them say they were proud of me.  I didn’t need to hear that, but it was good.

We had a picnic on the downtown pedestrian mall and it was good to have a meal with my family – my parents, my sister, and my husband all together.  I felt honored that they were all there for me, and I felt good knowing that they would all be able to come together for the baby, too. 

And the graduation itself was more meaningful to me than I expected.  Sure it was hot and there was a lot of standing and my feet were so swollen that I thought my flip-flops would become permanently embedded in my skin.  But I stood with the other MPH-ers (the only people in the class I really know well) during the lawn ceremony, which was fun.  And during the medical school ceremony I got called last (yay Z last name) to get my diploma – so the general applause sounded like it was all specifically for me, which was pretty awesome.  And in general I had fun waddling my super-pregnant self around in my Dr. Seuss t-shirt and getting lots of thumbs up and smiles.

So overall, even though I was totally exhausted afterward – I am really glad I went.  For me, I would always rather err on the side of having an experience that turns out to be bad, rather than missing out on something.  (This does not always work out as well as it did in this case.)

Whew.  I’m a doctor now.  Graduation didn’t totally make that sink in, but acknowledging this transition in public with my professors and classmates and family is certainly a good way to start integrating this part of my identity.

More catching up soon.  (Seriously, I promise.)

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